Film #227: ALPHAVILLE
2 out of 5 stars
For years, I’d heard of director Jean-Luc Godard’s (BREATHLESS, PIERROT LE FOU) sci-fi noir, ALPHAVILLE, but somehow it – as so many films do – slipped through the cracks and I never got around to seeing it. I finally tracked it down and, after hitting “Play,” the first thing I noticed seeing it now is how dated this “futuristic” film is. From the mid-60s Ford Galaxy the main character drives to the Kodak Instamatic (with the cube flashbulbs), this is a film that is not even trying to match locale with subject matter. I mean, BLADE RUNNER this is clearly not. Viewing the film now, one can’t help but be put off by the wooden acting, the long (and I mean LONG) tracking shots, and the fact that Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) never seems to run out of cigarettes. He also never seems to finish them, but somehow is always lighting them. But that’s another story… I will say that the actresses (Anna Karina, for instance) are all absolutely beautiful in that mid-60s kind of way (plain foundation with little accents, bangs and scarves, and LOTS of black eyeliner). Ok, so that all said, it soon becomes obvious that ALPHAVILLE is pure spoof, lampooning everything it touches: science fiction, comic-books, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, American private-eye movies, spy movies, technology in general and computers in particular, and most pointedly romantic love as presented in cinema. Once the viewer “gets” that, it’s easier to roll along with the punches with this meandering and uncontrolled film. The main character literally stumbles around the city, meeting people, going places, and it is all of little consequence. Repeatedly, I found myself checking my watch (which is NEVER a good sign). And as “Fin” plays out across the screen, I couldn’t help wondering what all the fuss was about. Cold, unfocused, pretty pointless… Godard crafts a decent image, but as far as storytelling goes, ALPHAVILLE comes up short. See it to check it off your list, but… don’t expect much.